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Young Ram team looking to make mark at state track

Amador Lujan is a youngster in the definition of a high-schooler, but the sophomore is a veteran when the Portales Rams take the track today in the state meet.

“I won’t be as nervous,” the 5-foot-11, 155-pound sprinter said of his second foray into the state track meet at the University of New Mexico. “Last year, I was kind of nervous. I didn’t expect to make it that far, really.”

This year, he expects more. Lujan has the best 200-meter time in Class 3A at 22.6 seconds, and he hopes to lead by example and score points for a Portales boys team full of first-timers.

“I hope to place this year, with the relays and everything, (in the) top three.”

Lujan will run in the open 100 and 200, and legs in the 400- and 800-meter relay teams for the Rams.

Ram coach Glen Johnson is hopeful that Lujan and the eight other Portales athletes taking part will have an attitude where they expect to place.

“If the district meet (last week) in any indication, I hope that these guys (are ready) to battle,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to be competitive. We’re young, first-timers, but we’ve got to look to be competitive.”

Johnson hasn’t had much of a chance to see the rest of the state, but he believes realized District 4-3A champion Lovington might be the best of the 3A field.

“Lovington’s tough again,” Johnson said. “They really qualified a whole bunch. They’re going to be tough to beat.”

Lovington will be tough on the girls side as well, but Portales coach Ruth Chavez feels that a you-never-know attitude is important.

“It’s like any other state competition,” Chavez said. “Some rise to the occasion, some (don’t). Hopefully, we’ll rise to the occasion.”

Chavez thinks that a team will need to score in the 30s to have a chance to take state, and Portales would need big victories from their 1,600-meter and 1,600-meter medley relay teams. Chavez feels the medley relay team is the strongest.

Erika Cook and Suzanne Cox are members of both relay teams, and Chavez thinks the pair will be a big part of what the Lady Rams do this weekend.

“They’ll be a major part,” Chavez said. “Erika also has a role as a leader. She’s (been) a strong leader in our (athletic) programs.”

The team Wednesday afternoon for the state meet, and Chavez said the team would have a practice en route to Albuquerque. Chavez is hopeful the team can put in its best times of the year at state, and the track at UNM has usually proven to be one of the state’s fastest.

“We’ve usually made our best times (at state),” Chavez said, “and that’s what you hope for.”

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